“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” ― Benjamin Franklin
Ah, the beautiful court cards. You can read more about them right here. And none more regal than the King of Swords. Let's take in his elegance for a moment, shall we?
The King of Swords rules the element of Air. We often use "air" as an insult, such as calling someone an airhead, or saying they're airy fairy, but the element of Air rules the mind and anything associated with the mind, logic, rationale, and of course communication. We whisper and scream and pass lots of hot AIR between us. The Swords rule the throat chakra (and the third eye and crown to some extent.) Swords, particularly the King, love discussions, even arguments and debates, on topics of global topics, political situations, war, philosophy and humanitarian interests. He is fair, and enjoys listening as well as talking. He believes in the power of language and discussion.
This King of Swords is twenty feet tall, no? He stands talls, strong, decisive. We can tell that simply by his stance and readiness with his sword. He has been through hardships, and has fought many battles--both of the wits and of the physical. This has given him wisdom and discernment as his key features. He is an excellent judge of character and can get himself out of sticky situations often without using his sword at all. Simply reading people and speaking. He catalogues people, studies them as a scientist. He knows the brains of men. This is where the throat comes in so strongly for Swords, for often it is the penchant for being beautifully articulate and diplomatic that wins their battles. We see this contrasted in the Knight, who often speeds off into battle before all the facts are in.
What is it about this King that is so alluring? Well, as with all court cards, when you pull the King of Swords in a reading, first we must determine if this is your energy or another person's energy. Swords rule the astrological signs of Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. The King of Swords tends to be someone in a job like lawyer, doctor, judge, mediator, diplomat, humanitarian or decision maker of some kind. He is determined, judicious, intellectual, and incredibly articulate. When this King is upright, he is honest, diplomatic, fair. More often than not, he is a professional. He tends to play his cards close to his chest emotionally.
Emotions are not where any of the Swords like to hang out and dissect. He'd much rather talk politics of some far away land, than his own emotional state. Swords don't trust their emotions, and tend to rely on their mind above any feelings. And yet your mind is often guided by its own agenda. This is why the Swords tend to be such difficult cards in the Tarot. They are about perception. Often perception above reality. They teach the lesson that our own logic can betray us easily if we aren't practicing due diligence with our facts. Swords also tend to be their own Gods, placing self-reliance and self-will over trusting in God. The King has learned this lesson the hard way many times. I imagine him going through his Eight of Swords prison, Nine of Swords nights, and Ten of Sword transformation. You win an argument with a Sword by presenting some cold stone facts. It is important to remember that Kings represent the suits best attributes in a human, so we also must imagine that they have faced their own demons with their suit.
This is what arises with the reversed King--the demons of Swords. They tend to be unfair, prejudiced, malicious. and unkind. They demand loyalty and punish anyone who they perceive to have crossed them. Reversed Kings of Swords seek revenge, and often completely crush their opponent. It is not simply about winning for them, they want to ruthlessly punish anyone who opposes their logic. They turn their articulation into manipulation and often hold resentments for years. They embody that Klingon saying that revenge is a dish best served cold. They never forget a slight, the reversed King of Sword. The logic turns cold, icy. Woe is the person who crosses a reversed King of Sword with some power behind their anger. He can be brutal somewhat sadistic. We often see this card reversed with an abusive partner--male or female. This is the card of the controlling, punishing abuser.
As with most cards, when the Reversed appears, you have to decide to what level this has occurred. Most of us aren't fully upright or reversed, are we? We tend to have some wonderful qualities and things to work on. King of Swords is no different. We often see one part of this reversed aspect in any upright person. We can see their vengeful attitudes, or their ability to manipulate with their words. This is evident in how we see lawyers, right? They study the law intensely for years, learning to emotionally detach and see both sides of an argument. Yet they have a reputation for lying. But that isn't fair, is it? Their job is to argue one side of an argument to win whether they emotionally agree with it or not. This is the issue with perception. It twists the truth.
Let me know what you think in the comments, and as always, I am grateful to share some Tarot wisdom. I'm also thinking of doing a Tarot course via the internets based on my in-person work. If you think you might be interested in this, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.